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Subject: Calling ROME experts #2 rss

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Christian Marcussen
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Hi.

I have been researching the Roman civilization as a mad man.

I have a few people already to consult, but expanding the wealth on knowledgde can only be a good thing

So I have a few questions which I have not yet found answers to, and perhaps some of you Rome buffs know the answers:

1. Often the Consuls and Preators were apointed some Legions as part of their office. However many times they would be at Rome rather than leading their men in batte. So my question is: When the consuls are in Rome are these spcific legions dispanded until needed, would they they still be campaigning without the Consul, or something else entirely?

2. After serving as Consuls and Preators these individuals would be appointed a province to Govern. Would all Governors be ex-magistrates or could others have such a task?

3. Economy. The economy of Rome has been described as a plunder economy - i.e. got lots of their wealth from defating and conquering enemies. But what about taxes? I know that in the mid-late republic tax farming was introduced but what about prior to that? Was it something like this: Governors were expected to pay money to Rome. The Governors would then collect this from the people? What about the plundered money - would that be transfered directly to Rome or would it rather go to the Governor who would then send some back to Rome as agreed upon?

4. Buildings: Who would decide what would be built and who would talke the credit? For instance if a building pleases the people, who would they be grateful to?

5. Who proposed new Laws? Was this the consuls, or was it influential senators? In other words did senators only propose laws by convincing the consul to put them forward or could they do this directly?

More questions will arise as I'll get further into development but these will be good for now.

Thanks. cool

[UPDATE]

New questions added in post #11!
 
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Dave Gilligan
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Christian,

While I can't answer your questions I thought I'd point out a podcast I've been listening to, The History of Rome. You might even be able to contact the creator of that podcast and ask if he has the answers you are looking for. Here is the website for his blog:

http://thehistoryofrome.blogspot.com/
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Best book on pre-Imperial Rome is "Swords Against the Senate". It deals with most of these issues head on.

1. To gain political office, a man of good (aristocratic) birth would be assigned to a legion in the position like paymaster or supply-requisiition master. He would move up the ranks. Once he reached command status, the man could be transferred to an available political office, usually a governorship; many, prior to the Empire, were forced to take up political office, as the Senate did not want too many popular commanders out in the field when there was not an emergency.

A Consul, pre-Empire, was mainly a military post, and there would always be two to prevent a consolidation of power in the hands of one man. A Counsul would be sent into the field whenever an emergency arose, leaving the other to preside over the Senate. Seldom was there a period when both Consuls were in Rome at the same time.

A Consul sent to the front would be given command of a group of men considered sufficient to do the job, whether this was one legion or more. Often, pre-Caesar's day, a Consul might have to raise/recruit an army. The book mentioned above goes into some detail on this and how Rome's standing army was formed.


2. When an aristocrat was done with the Army, he could be appointed to a governorship. Many were plum position, where the man could fill his coffers by exploiting his power. Most went to the Senate.

Consuls, pre-Empire, could not serve two terms in a row. The position of "plebian advocate to the Senate" (forget the exact title), though, could be filled for several terms by the same noble and carried a lot of weight. Again, the book above goes into this quite well.


3. Rome's economy was mostly agrarian and highly dependent on trade, both among the provinces and foreign powers. It's most important trade partner appears to have been China. Prior to Caesar's time, most of the farming was done by free citizens and the middle, equestrian class. "Swords Against the Senate" deals with the destruction of this system and the beginnings of the slave economy.

Rome also used technology, mainly after Augustus' time, using industrial scale machinery to: bake bread; mine for ore; create metal. These machines were nearly at the level of the early-mid 19th century!

While plunder played a part in Rome's economy, it did so mostly to its eventual detriment (like the Spanish and their Incan-Aztec gold). The initial influx would bring temporary prosperity, but would lead to inflation, which caused many Emperors to debase their currency.


4. Buildings were built by large conglomerate merchant houses, often owned by nobles. The family would get the prestige. Crassus ("as rich as ____") was a home-builder, mass arsonist, home-rebuilder. The wealth he gained from doing this made him the richest man in Rome's history, and it allowed him to form the First Triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey the Great. His death led to Rome's Second Civil War (book above goes into the First one).

Certain projects needed Senate approval and money, as they were expensive and often in the national interest: harbors, aquaducts, roads, ampitheaters, etc.

After Caesar's death, the Emperor's got into the building act. Their most stunning achievement was a massive sewer system that allowed Rome to hold over one million citizens and would not need to be updated until the late 20th century.


5. Much of Rome's legal system was an implicit constitution. As the city grew into an Empire a lot of addendums needed to be codified as notes, but were still understood to be implicit. "Laws", as such, did not exist. Mostly what would happen is a citizen (aristocrat, equestrian, Senator, Consul, people's advocate, other, foreign dignitary) would petition the Senate (later the Emperor, with the Senate rubberstamping his decision) to make a temporary exemption or provide money for a project. So not laws, but temporary one-shot rulings.


Any more questions? I am here to help.
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Christian Marcussen
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Samuraicat wrote:
Christian,

While I can't answer your questions I thought I'd point out a podcast I've been listening to, The History of Rome. You might even be able to contact the creator of that podcast and ask if he has the answers you are looking for. Here is the website for his blog:

http://thehistoryofrome.blogspot.com/


Thanks... will check it out.

Quote:
Best book on pre-Imperial Rome is "Swords Against the Senate". It deals with most of these issues head on.


Wow that book seems top notch. Thanks for the recommendation...

Quote:
4. Buildings were built by large conglomerate merchant houses, often owned by nobles. The family would get the prestige. Crassus ("as rich as ____") was a home-builder, mass arsonist, home-rebuilder. The wealth he gained from doing this made him the richest man in Rome's history, and it allowed him to form the First Triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey the Great. His death led to Rome's Second Civil War (book above goes into the First one).

Certain projects needed Senate approval and money, as they were expensive and often in the national interest: harbors, aquaducts, roads, ampitheaters, etc.


You have NO idea how well that fits into the framework I setting up now. Woohooo

Quote:
5. Much of Rome's legal system was an implicit constitution. As the city grew into an Empire a lot of addendums needed to be codified as notes, but were still understood to be implicit. "Laws", as such, did not exist. Mostly what would happen is a citizen (aristocrat, equestrian, Senator, Consul, people's advocate, other, foreign dignitary) would petition the Senate (later the Emperor, with the Senate rubberstamping his decision) to make a temporary exemption or provide money for a project. So not laws, but temporary one-shot rulings.


I'm not sure I quite follow. Didn't the Senate pass laws for ratification at the popular assembleys? I hope so since that is quite an important part of what I'm pondering on.


 
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Michael Akinde
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For the latter Rome, the best current book on the subject (IMO), is "The Last Generation of the Roman Republic" by Erich S. Gruen - not "popular" fare, but surprisingly readable despite that. For a more popular version of the same period, "Rubicon" by Tom Holland is pretty OK.

Re: your questions:

1. The Consuls and Praetors possessed both military and civilian duties. Initially, this was not a problem, because a magistrate could usually be expected to be away for relatively short periods of times (local wars) - but it became so as the Roman interests expanded. This is probably the reason why the "pro-magistracy" was invented, as it allowed the military part of a Consuls or Praetors authority to be extended beyond his term of office. Eventually, this morphed into the well-known pattern where the Consuls/Praetors discarged only civilian duties during their year in office, and then were prorogued for a year (and not infrequently more years) of military command. It was a remarkably flexible (if confusing) system.

Legions were stationed as needed; presumably, when a new Commander went into the field, he drafted replacements for those soldiers who were to be discharged (or had been killed). For a new war, Legions were usually raised "from scratch"; otherwise, most often, they tended to be stationed in location (but with shifting personell).

One Proconsul was prosecuted for disbanding his troops (in spite) before the arrival of his successor, thereby wasting a year of campaigning.

2. There are exceptions to everything (usually named Scipio), but the general rule was that only ex-magistrates with Imperium where allowed to hold Imperium as governors.

3. Apart from the tax farmers, the Romans relied on a broad network of alliances with individual communities (from which no doubt some tribute was extracted). Apart from the tax farmers and the state-run silver mines in Spain and Macedonia, there appears to have been little systematic exploitation of the provinces by the "state". Personal exploitation, on the other hand, was rampant.

4. The Censors were the magistrates in charge of distributing public contracts, and thus for extensive public buildings (usually dedicated to themselves... e.g, Via Appia, Basilica Porcia, etc.) Apart from that, private initiative rules. Building temples was a favorite activity.

For many, though, ostentatious funerals and feasts were even more relevant than buildings. Much of the real power in the Roman electorate did not live in the city, after all...

5. Only Consuls and (from the third century BC) Tribunes could propose legislation, IIRC.

The Twelve Tables codified the law and formed the core of the constitution from 450 BCE; later legislation was similarly written down on bronze, wood, or papyrus and presumably stored in temples or in the aediles "treasury". We know this, because Cicero complained bitterly about how haphazard the storage and handling of the documents was (there being no professional corps of guardians for the records).

In the Empire, the legislative authority obviously fell to the Emperor and his delegates.
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Christian Marcussen
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Thanks, and thanks for the reading recommendations. They have all been ordered

Quote:
3. Apart from the tax farmers, the Romans relied on a broad network of alliances with individual communities (from which no doubt some tribute was extracted). Apart from the tax farmers and the state-run silver mines in Spain and Macedonia, there appears to have been little systematic exploitation of the provinces by the "state". Personal exploitation, on the other hand, was rampant.


I see. Do you know which factors were relevant when deciding how much tax a Province was to pay?

-----------

Is there some source to the laws and decrees past in Rome during the republic.

 
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Michael Akinde
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marqzen wrote:

I see. Do you know which factors were relevant when deciding how much tax a Province was to pay?


The Romans simply levied tithes on entire communities; rates were presumably assessed by the Censors, governors, or local magistrates/nobles. Often, the Romans would simply take over existing tax agreements; i.e., instead of paying taxes to a King, the town would now pay the same (or a smaller amount) to Rome. Of course, the publicani (tax farmers) were in it for the profit.

Quote:

Is there some source to the laws and decrees past in Rome during the republic.


Wikipedia actually has a pretty nice index of most of the well-known Roman laws.
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It is interesting how we have divergent thoughts on some of these issues due to completely different sources. It is sort of like Robert Anton Wilson's 23rd Law of the Universe, "Certitude is the province of those who only own one set of encyclopedias".
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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Look into the history of the Gracci brothers to see how the law system (who proposed them, what they meant, what their "legality" was) was very fluid and rather unstable. Also look at Senatus Colsultum Ultimum to see how unstable even the actions of the senate could be. I would do my best to describe it, but other people have said it much better than I could to give you the proper feel of it.
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Michael Akinde
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With Ancient history, the only thing you will never have is certitude.

That aside, the Roman power structures were hopelessly convoluted. A key reason for this is that (despite hardly being democratic) the will of the people was paramount. Sure, you might have a law that says a Consul has to be a Praetor first, but then again - any law can be waived if the "people" decree it to be so. This makes it almost impossible to make statements that some office or law was definitely such and such... there was always exceptions (quite apart from the changes that also occured over time).

As Ben suggests, the very best is to get hold of the primary sources. It is good to have secondary sources for explanation/filling out the blanks (especially since much of what we know comes from archeological inscriptions, most of which is not publically available), but it is the primary sources that can really give you some insights into the Romans.

For the late Republic, I would particularly recommend the speeches and letters of Cicero, which you'll find some of in any well-stocked library. They are an invaluable insight into the personal (and public) thoughts of someone who lived and died during the fall of the Republic.




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Christian Marcussen
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You guys kick all kinds of ass!

This is really helpful, and things are looking great on my end.

New questions (new answers to the old ones still appreciated).

---------------------------

I wanted to abstractly split the senate into these 6 majors clans. Michael suggested; Fabius, Cornelius, Claudius, Sempronius, Servilius, and Licinius. (Thanks Michael)

I then want to assign two different traits to each clain. So far I have six traits;

Conservative (The old laws are fine)
Progressive (We need reform)
Imperialistic (Expand! Attack!)
Isolationist (Lets take it easy)
Populist (We serve the people)
Plutocrat (nah... we serve ourselves)

Obviously a clan can't be Conservative AND Progressive, just like it can't be Populist and Plutocrat.

So by all means.. fire away!

ps: I know it's abstract, and simplified but that's the world of board games
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So are you focussing on some sort of coalition politics? I always thought that would be great to see in a game, but had few ideas of how to implement it.
 
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Christian Marcussen
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Well it's not the only focus... But the political side of things will play a good part of the game in many ways.

The coalitions will be flexible and work on a case to case basis, and if all fractions are player controlled (i.e. a 6 player game) then coalitions are entirely free.

The assigning of traits to these fractions is only needed for NPC fractions. That way in a three player game, two players won't always win votes in the senate since the NPC fractions will still have their say.
 
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Michael Akinde
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Obviously, assigning traits to an entire clan can not hope to reflect historical reality, but one suggestion one could go with (justification for the first trait only):

Servilius: Conservative, Plutocrat
(Historical Person: Several consuls - rivals of Scipio)

Cornelius: Progressive, Imperialistic
(Historical Person: Cornelius Scipio and father. Didn't mind bending the rules... a lot)

Claudius: Imperialistic, Populist
(Historical Person: Marcellus - the Sword of Rome)

Fabius: Isolationist, Conservative
(Historical Person: Fabius Maximus - the Shield of Rome. Strongly opposed to the invasion of Africa)

Sempronius: Populist, Progressive
(Historical Person: Tiberius Gracchus, father of the Grachii brothers. Led the "slave army" of Rome during the Punic wars)

Licinius: Plutocrat, Isolationist
(No really remarkable Consuls, but hey - we're talking about an ancestors of Crassus...)
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Christian Marcussen
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Strategy wrote:
Obviously, assigning traits to an entire clan can not hope to reflect historical reality, but one suggestion one could go with (justification for the first trait only):

Servilius: Conservative, Plutocrat
(Historical Person: Several consuls - rivals of Scipio)

Cornelius: Progressive, Imperialistic
(Historical Person: Cornelius Scipio and father. Didn't mind bending the rules... a lot)

Claudius: Imperialistic, Populist
(Historical Person: Marcellus - the Sword of Rome)

Fabius: Isolationist, Conservative
(Historical Person: Fabius Maximus - the Shield of Rome. Strongly opposed to the invasion of Africa)

Sempronius: Populist, Progressive
(Historical Person: Tiberius Gracchus, father of the Grachii brothers. Led the "slave army" of Rome during the Punic wars)

Licinius: Plutocrat, Isolationist
(No really remarkable Consuls, but hey - we're talking about an ancestors of Crassus...)


Thanks a bunch... This should work well for prototyping and testing.
 
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